Seeks to identify the challenges and opportunities that affect the prosperity of the local economy, and the business community. The growth of enterprise and entrepreneurship, access to business support and training and skills are three of the key areas for the group.
With partners, the group develops projects and plans that will support the growth of the district's economy, encourage business start-up and sustainability and improve the take up of business support.
Projects include Support4Business, a mentoring scheme for new and established businesses, and support for an annual Flying Start Rally, which aims to encourage students to think about enterprise and entrepreneurship.
A new scheme to help businesses during the recession and give graduates valuable hands-on employment experience has had a successful first six months.
Business First was launched in May with a grant of more than £300,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and is run by Canterbury Christ Church University in partnership with the Universities of Kent, Greenwich and the Creative Arts.
The project aims to tackle some of the challenges faced by local businesses in the difficult economic climate by placing graduates with employers free of charge.
It is the first scheme of its kind in the south east. Businesses are provided with a single point of access to the county's graduates, who under go intensive employability training before joining small and medium sized businesses and bringing their expertise and ideas during project-based work placements. Once placed, graduates can claim a £500 per month bursary for a maximum of five months.
To date, 46 new graduates have been through the training in subjects such as leadership and team working, networking and negotiation, presentation and self-awareness, understanding and exploring entrepreneurship and marketing and finance.
After the training, the graduates update their CVs and then they are matched with participating businesses, with a view to securing a mutually beneficial placement. So far, 17 graduates have been successfully placed with businesses. More training courses and interviews are in the pipeline.
Whitstable-based chartered surveyors and estate agents Harvey, Richards and West is one local company to have taken on a graduate as part of the scheme.
Anthony Chia, 23, from Whitstable, graduated from the University of Kent with a computer science degree and is part way through his placement, working on IT and marketing support.
He said: "The scheme is really helpful and is an excellent stepping stone after graduating. During my degree I spent a sandwich year working for a large pharmaceutical company, and now with this scheme I am gaining experience in working in a smaller business."
Debbie Morgan-Allen is a sales negotiator at Harvey, Richards and West, and is line managing Anthony.
She said: "Smaller businesses do need some support during difficult economic times, so this scheme has been very good for us. I would certainly recommend it to other companies, and we will be looking to take on another graduate in the future."
The graduate project has been strongly supported by the city council through Canterbury4Business.
Assistant Head of Regeneration and Economic Development, Dawn Hudd, said: "We have a close relationship with Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent and have a memorandum of understanding with both organisations. The council has been promoting the scheme to businesses in the Canterbury district and we are delighted it is proving so successful."
For more details on the scheme, contact Samia Abdiche on 01227 782 093 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.